On a windy day like today, you want to be driving a car shaped like a stealth missile. Can I recommend the XFR then?
Last week we tested the Range Rover Sport and, as wonderful as it was, like all Range Rovers it still has the aerodynamics of a very expensive brick. Drive it at high speed in a crosswind and you will feel the earth move.
The XFR, on the other hand, feels as tight on the road as a Scalextric car. The ‘R’ has been tweaked to create extra downforce too, so even when you push it hard, it sits beautifully on the road.
The only wind you will feel on the inside is from the four air vents on the dashboard, which have covers that open automatically when you turn the key in the ignition.
It’s like something from Star Trek and very, very cool.
There are cars that shout about their performance and those that don’t. If you are not the sort of guy to walk around with your flies down on purpose, the XFR could be for you.
You see, unlike the Audi RS6 and the over-rated Mercedes E63, there’s not that much about the Jaguar XFR that suggests it has a monster of an engine under the bonnet. A direct injection, supercharged 5.0-litre V8 is always going to be quick, except in the XFR, it only reveals its true colour when you ask it to.
How refreshing. Here is a high performance car that is subtle and understated. In fact, you could steer the XFR around town without raising an eyebrow. The burble from the 503bhp V8 occasionally seeps out but otherwise, nobody is going to know that you are driving one of the best saloons on the road.
The Jaguar is a car that you could lend to your aged grandma to drive and she wouldn’t have a clue as to the performance. However, if she stomps her foot on the accelerator by accident, she will unleash a massive amount of torque that will catapult the XFR past anything at a huge rate of knots.
You have been warned…
The XFR is almost as sinister to look at as the Audi Q7. As Clarkson said, you could ‘nail it to a church wall to ward off the devil’ – and he should know…
It’s a subtle make-over compared to the brutish BMW M5 but all the usual stuff is there. Features like four exhaust pipes, a black front grille, chrome side window surrounds and red brake calipers.
Some drivers want to shout about the performance of their car but this being a Jaguar, it’s much less obvious and rather more refined.
Which do I prefer? I think the XFR. It’s just a prettier shape from a 5 Series and more, well, British. More tomorrow…
You might not have noticed the twin sets of tailpipes peeping out from under the rear of the F-Type. If you are close enough to see them in the metal, you will definitely have heard them coming.
The old E-Type sported a beautiful pair, angled upwards and a joy to polish on a Sunday morning. Yes, I’ll admit to getting my cloth out for that!
Now the F-Type has joined the rank of sports cars which has an acoustic button for the exhaust system. You can read about the Porsche 911 and Aston Martin Vanquish equivalent elsewhere on the site.
Jaguar’s is on the centre console and it just ups the tempo, helping to spit and burble your journey away. I know some people don’t like it but it’s a great sound! Whoever the engineer was who came up with the idea deserves recognition.
While most cars are accoustically muffled for the sounds of silence, Jaguar uses sound to accentuate the benefits of a truly great car.
I spent a day last week on a Formula One simulator. Not some X-Box nonsense but a proper, real-size machine with video graphics, a motion rig and booming sound system.
To be honest, it wasn’t that good. I drove Damon Hill’s Arrows car once and there was absolutely no similarity between the two. The simulator wasn’t a riotous assault on the senses – there was no sense of movement, no smells and no feeling.
The Jaguar F-Type is one of a small number of sports car that really does wrap the driver in a bubble of sensory experience. There are plenty of two-seaters on the market that offer great performance and looks but none compare to the F-Type for the all-round experience.
Of course, you are going to pay at least £70,000 to park an F-Type on your driveway but I wonder what they will be selling for secondhand in three year’s time? I know I’ll be looking for one when that time comes…
Finding faults with a car as good as the F-Type is difficult. Here are some thoughts.
The convertible has a tiny boot – it’s not affected by the fabric hood being down but there is little depth and no room for a set of golf clubs if you are that way inclined.
The centre console that houses the infotainment screen has a rash of function buttons down each side which just don’t measure up to the build quality of the rest of the car.
Those black leather sports seats are hard – and I mean really hard! It’s nothing to do with the suspension but on an uneven surface it’s decidedly uncomfortable.
And while the sun visors are tiny, the centre storage bin small and rear visibility limited with the wind deflector in place, I doubt any of these issues will spoil your enjoyment of the F-Type.
There’s something very cool about the F-Type. Our convertible is a headturner but of the two, I think the latest coupe version is the more iconic. It’s no E-Type but I can think of few cars that have attracted as much attention as the Jaguar.
Today I saw a bright yellow Maserati driven down the high street of Stow-on-the-Wold by a dashing young chap with model looks. In his mirror sunglasses and ‘Maserati’ leather jacket, he managed to make a great car look quite ridiculous.
Somehow I just can’t see that happening in an F-Type. There’s a finesse about the Jag that is pretty hard to find. It’s the sort of rare refinement that comes in a 1930s Bentley, or a gullwing Mercedes.
Just how you bottle that and inject it into your newly designed sports car Lord only knows. Jaguar and designer Ian Callum have managed it…
When we tested the Audi Q5 recently, it took five days before I found the right buttons to turn a good SUV into a great one. The 3.0 TDI was transformed in sport mode – a totally different beast to the car that I had become used to.
And you could say the same about the F-Type. It’s only when you switch to ‘dynamic’ mode, activate the acoustic exhaust button and, preferably, drop the hood, that the Jaguar awakes from a grand tourer into a rasping sports car.
I’m not sure I’ve had as much fun in a performance car since I first went sideways in a Caterham 7. There’s no need to push it hard either, the F-Type returns mile after mile of thrills in every situation.
Red is my least favourite colour for a car but I could even overlook the paintwork to have one parked in my garage permanently. And I haven’t even driven the coupe version yet, which is no doubt going to be even better. At last, some serious competition for the Porsche 911…
I keep wondering what it must have been like for those first motoring journalists who tested the Jaguar E-Type when it was launched back in the early 60s. The car arrived with such hype that it could have taken a very large fall.
Of course, it didn’t and the cigar-like shape of the convertible became a symbol of the sixties – one of the most recognisable cars of all time.
So creating a successor some 50 years on, Jaguar was very careful not to make too many comparisons. They talked about the heritage and DNA of the E-Type but didn’t risk pushing it too far.
The F-Type has arrived to critical acclaim, a British sports car that could compete with the best, take them on, and win. Hopefully, after six days of testing, we’ll have a better idea of what the fuss is all about…
Jaguar F-Type R-Dynamic Convertible 380PS
As pretty convertibles go, the F-Type has to be one of the best. Slick as a Ferrari, or even an Aston Martin whichever way you look at it. The F-Type hasn’t quite lived up to expection since it was launched five years ago – so how does the 380PS V6 fare? The V8 models are faster but you can actually afford to run the £71,725 R-Dynamic, with rear-wheel drive. It returns 32.9mpg combined and holds its value well. Join us for the last rays of the summer in a sexy Jaguar…